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Entries for 'Gary Pearce'

28
The internal politics of the North Carolina Democratic Party are a mystery to me, so I’m lost when people ask, essentially, “WTF is Randy Voller up to?” So I refer you to an insightful piece by an observer I trust: Bob Geary with Indy Week.
 
Geary begins: “After a stormy year as state Democratic Party chair, Randy Voller should step down for the sake of his party's candidates and North Carolina. I say this knowing that he won't, because Voller sees himself as a visionary leader—but he can't see that he's hurting Democratic prospects for 2014.”
 
And Geary concludes with a spot-on observation about a party chairman’s duty: “In election years, the job is to elect candidates—not be the story instead of them.”
 
Amen. The future of Democratic candidates – not to mention that of North Carolina, the nation and the free world – might depend on whether the party’s executive committee remembers this admonition when it meets March 9.

 

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27
Your eyes may glaze over reading about the McCrory administration’s plan to reform Medicaid. But this may pop your pupils: It adopts a key feature of Obamacare.
 
Like the Affordable Care Act, DHHS’ new and improved Medicaid plan depends on an animal called “Accountable Care Organizations.”
 
One health expert describes ACOs this way: “One of the main ways the Affordable Care Act seeks to reduce health care costs is by encouraging doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to form networks to coordinate care better, which could keep costs down. To do that, the law is trying a carrot-and-stick approach in the Medicare program: Accountable Care Organizations.”
 
Compare that to the N&O’s description of DHHS’ Medicaid plan: “Instead of pursuing managed care, DHHS proposes that hospitals, doctors and clinics form networks called accountable care organizations, an option that state health care groups publicly supported.”
 
So a tip of the hat to Governor McCrory’s administration for recognizing the good features of Obamacare.

 

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25
This poll result caught the eye: “Obama at 42 percent approval in NC, McCrory at 36 percent.” Yes, the Governor’s approval rating was lower than the President’s in a High Point University poll.
 
Now, a big caveat: The poll was of all adults, not just voters. The results might be different among voters alone. Of course, McCrory probably would do even worse in a poll of grocery store cooks and clerks.
 
The point is that, GOP bluster to the contrary, North Carolinians don’t hold McCrory in much higher esteem than Obama.
 
Looks like Democrats need a massive voter persuasion and turnout program this year.

 

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24
Even Governor McCrory’s critics were ready to move on, but he won't, for reasons that are unfathomable. Instead, he takes time out of his (we assume) busy schedule to write a letter to the Charlotte Observer about his now-famous encounter with a cook at a gourmet food store.
 
The letter tells us a lot more than McCrory intended. It tells us that he cannot take the slightest bit of criticism. No slight is too small to offend him. He comes off as silly, petty and self-pitying.
 
He should just let it go. Somebody around him should say, “You are the Governor of North Carolina.  He is a cook. You’ve got more important things to do.”

As the Governor himself said in his letter, “North Carolinians deserve better." Indeed.

 

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21
The 14 men seated on the front row were in or closing in on their 10th decade on earth. Some of them were bent and wheelchair-bound. A couple were spry and alert. Several had trouble hearing, even when their names were called and their courage recounted.
 
Seventy years ago, they were young men. Boys, really. Eighteen, nineteen years old, maybe in their early twenties. They went to war. They fought in combat in France. They liberated Europe. They defeated the Nazis. They saved civilization from savagery.
 
This week, in a ceremony at the State Capitol, the oft-reviled French thanked them. The French consul general in Atlanta bestowed his government’s Legion of Honor on the 14 North Carolinians. His news release said the ceremony was “to express France’s eternal gratitude to those who liberated it from oppression from 1944-45.”
 
Senator Josh Stein, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Governor Pat McCrory spoke, and spoke well. The consul general struggled with the language and pronunciations, but was heartfelt.
 
Still, no words could do justice to those 14 men, what they did and what they experienced.
 
One of them is my stepfather, Joe Dickerson, whom I’ve written about before. Joe was in the first wave at Omaha Beach. For three months, he fought across France, Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg. On Friday, October 13, 1944, between Aachen and Julich, in Germany, he was crawling through a wire fence when a German 88 shell exploded, killed the buddy beside him and wounded Joe in the arm and head. He woke up a week later in a field hospital. They shipped him home for a long recovery. He was awarded a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for heroism. He received a Purple Heart with four Oak Leaf Clusters. That means he was wounded five times in combat. He has so much metal in his arm that airport scanners go berserk when he gets close.
 
Joe went on to be a successful businessman and civic leader in Murfreesboro. He’s a quiet, modest, great-grandfather today. You struggle to see him dragging the wounded, bleeding but still living, out of the water on D-Day, under withering fire all the time. Or fighting hand-to-hand with German soldiers. Or taking out three tanks with a bazooka.
 
And there were 14 stories like his Thursday.
 
Secretary Marshall noted that they are called the Greatest Generation.  They are also, she added, “tough old birds.”
 
In a blog that celebrates politics, democracy and free speech, their names deserve our attention and respect:
 
-      George F. Tyson Jr, from Mebane, NC (Ret. Colonel, L Company, 399th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division)
-      John Salop from Charlotte, NC (Commander, USS. Charles F. Hughes)
-      Allen D. Evans from  Chapel Hill, NC (Staff Sergeant, Headquarters Battery, 76th Field Artillery Battalion)
-      Gerald M. Anderson from Pinehurst, NC (Sergeant, 16th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division)
-      Jessie O. Bowman from Granite Falls, NC (Sergeant, 345th Regiment, 87th Infantry Division)
-      Carl R. Britt from Conway, NC (Sergeant, 274th Infantry Regiment, 70th Division)
-      Donald F. Johnston from Cary, NC (Sergeant, Company L, 410th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Division)
-      Joseph H. Collie from  Durham, NC (Corporal, Company B, 397th Infantry)
-      James W. Toffton from Rock Mount, NC (Corporal, 555th Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion)
-      Norwood McKoy from Wilmington, NC (Technician 5th Grade, 192nd Chemical Deploy Company)
-      Joseph Q. Dickerson from Murfreesboro, NC (Private First Class, Company E, 116th Infantry)
-      Richard L. Hammel from Murfreesboro, NC (Private First Class, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment)
-      Paul E. Haney from Reidsville, NC (Private First Class, 80th Cavalry Reconnaissance troop)
-      James F. Sansom from Cary, NC (Private First Class, 1560th Service Command Unit Station Complement).

 

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20
Governor McCrory was checking off his 2014 Reset List. Teacher pay plan: check. Televised command presence in snowstorm: check. National face time on Face the Nation: check. New communications director: check.
 
Then a river of sludge called coal ash starts gushing out of a facility owned by his employer of 28 years. Then a U.S. attorney starts issuing subpoenas. Then a cook with a ponytail gets mouthy and the Governor gets blamed for getting him fired – and for being thin-skinned.
 
Now, even some of McCrory’s fiercest critics say the cook deserved to be fired. After all, he wasn’t – as the Governor would say, “customer-friendly.” And McCrory’s allies note that the DENR subpoenas also cover Governor Perdue’s time in office. Unfortunately for McCrory, she’s no longer in office and in charge.
 
This all just shows how, despite all their efforts to control the agenda, politicians often find themselves controlled by events. How they respond is the difference between triumph and disaster.
 
The Governor could have shrugged off the cook. Or sensed trouble when DENR Secretary John Skvarla vowed to spend two or three hours answering questions about the coal ash spill.
 
Instead, Skvarla beat a hasty retreat after one hour, with reporters shouting questions at him as he walked off stage.
 
So the Governor might be adding one more item to his list: Keep Skvarla away from the cameras.

 

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19
This is not what you call an ideal corporate PR juxtaposition. The Page One headline screams, “Damage from Dan River spill still unfolding.” From a Duke Energy power plant. On the business page, the headline says: “Duke Energy earnings up for 2013.”
 
In true corporate PR fashion, Duke’s CEO announces the profits. An underling is dispatched to handle the pollution questions.

 

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18
North Carolina’s unemployment rate apparently went up by one person this weekend following an encounter between Governor McCrory and a cook at a Charlotte gourmet food store. The Charlotte Observer reports that the cook was fired after making a critical comment to the Governor.
 
The Observer said: “On Sunday afternoon, McCrory was shopping at Reid’s Fine Foods when Drew Swope, a 45-year-old cook, said he asked if he could help McCrory. After realizing he was speaking with the governor, whom he disagrees with politically, Swope said he told McCrory, ‘Thanks for nothing,’ and walked away. Swope said the governor was upset at his comment and began ‘yelling’ at him. He said McCrory said he was a customer and shouldn’t be treated that way. He said the governor and his security team complained to the food store owner, who then fired him.”
 
The Governor’s spokesman disputes that account, saying the cook “made an obscene gesture to the governor during the conversation” and that Swope has said “things about physically harming the governor as well.”
 
This isn’t good news for a Governor who already has a reputation for being thin-skinned. Getting store employees fired is not exactly the way to ingratiate yourself with the public. It smacks of Thomas E. Dewey suggesting that his campaign train engineer be shot at sunrise.

 

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17
Last week summed up the obstacles and opportunities that Governor McCrory faces as he governs in a purple state where politics is played for keeps. And he saw how hard it is, even for a Governor, to dictate the agenda.
 
McCrory started the week trying to shed the Republican Party’s anti-teacher, anti-education label. He ended it trying to walk a fine line on climate change on Face the Nation. In between, he did what governors most like to do: put on a work shirt, got in front of the cameras and played Master of Disaster. Then he faced what governors most hate to see: a federal investigation into whether his administration is too cozy – as in, a felony – with Duke Energy.
 
McCrory came off best in the one situation where he had least control: storm response. Remember: the most dangerous place to be in a storm is between a politician and a TV camera.
 
But he found himself slipping and sliding when CBS’ Bob Schieffer surprised him by quoting a 2008 interview in which McCrory suggested climate change was a gift from God, not man-made. As usual, McCrory said he didn’t say what he’d said – on tape.
 
The teacher-pay problem is harder to skate away from. Judging from the reaction last week, McCrory and the GOP face tough sledding there (okay, enough with the ice and snow jokes).
 
The real thin ice (sorry, I can’t help it) is the federal probe into DENR-Duke. Recent political history right here at home shows how politically dangerous that can be.
 
Stay tuned. Season Two of our own House of Cards is just getting started.

 

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14
Instead of exploiting the Tea Party’s war on Establishment Republicans, Randy Voller seems set on replicating it in the Democratic Party.
 
Behind this week’s chaos is a history of hostilities between some party activists and what they see as the Establishment Enemy: elected officials in Raleigh and consultants who help elect them. It goes back to Howard Dean’s candidacy in 2004, which brought in enthusiastic grassroots activists, and Jerry Meek’s election as chair in 2005.
 
Meek did a good job keeping everybody together. But Voller seems intent on keeping himself in power by driving a wedge. According to one party leader, Voller said he fired ex-ED Robert Dempsey because he “spent too much time working with the Hagan campaign.”
 
Hello? Too much time working on a race vital to North Carolina’s future, not to mention a majority in the United States Senate?
 
To get a full picture of the chaos, read the first-hand account by WRAL’s Mark Binker of Voller’s statewide conference call with party leaders Tuesday night. One person on the call texted: “Randy is selectively muting opponents, kicking reporters off the line….It’s like a dictatorship.”
 
Voller defends himself and his plan to make Ben Chavis ED of the party by saying it will “fire up the base.” But parties that focus solely on firing up the base forget to win a majority. Successful parties, like Democrats in the 1990s and President Obama (who disavowed Chavis’ support in 2008) do both.
 
The Tea Party is about to drive the Republican Party off a cliff. Why should the North Carolina Democratic Party join them?

 

 

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